What do I tell you about a Volkswagen Golf that you don’t already know, other than that this one is a little different with its two-doors and a fabric folding roof? The Golf Cabriolet was launched back in February and it didn’t take much time behind the wheel to realise that the first Golf Cabriolet since 2002, tees off with a low handicap and a graceful swing that guarantees it a spot on the green every time. To be clear, however, we are talking about the more powerful and well spec’d TSI Highline model, which can carry it’s own clubs if necessary and still look good while doing so.
Those good looks are by-and-large standard, thanks to the swept-back angle of the windscreen, a low roofline and a visually very short boot. The 17-inch ‘Porto’ alloy wheels distinguish the Highline model from the ‘lesser’ Comfortline variant, but those dazzling LED headlight units that add considerably to the Cabrio’s classy looks, are a pricey option. Fortunately the ‘graceful swing’ is executed by the roof in just 9 seconds when folding down and 11 seconds when folding up. The fact that it can be operated at speeds of up to 30 km/h also means the ‘cabriolet’ functionality is used far more often, thanks simply to its convenience. In profile, whether with the roof up or down, the Golf Cabrio maintains its appealing proportions and with a roof that is stored completely flat for that ‘Riviera speedboat’ look. Unlike the front, LED illuminated tail-lights are standard and have been borrowed from the sporty Golf R and GTI Edition 35, adding a smarter look to an otherwise familiar waistline.
The Cabriolet’s interior is identical to that of the hatchback for all intents and purposes, but once again, it’s a club house atmosphere I’ve enjoyed since first stepping inside the current generation in 2009, having commented, “I immediately felt at home behind the controls – like slipping into your favourite pair of jeans.” The Cabrio’s low roofline and narrower windows give passengers a sleek impression of the car from the interior and the perception of a lower seating position. The sports seats are very comfortable and offer good lateral and lumbar support. They’re also leather covered, heated, height adjustable and have a manual adjustment for lumbar support.
All of the Volkswagen trim is molded securely into place so the ambiance is relaxing and comfortable. Switchgear is pleasant to work with and combined with an excellent fit and finish. The press car was fitted with an optional, 8-speaker, radio/CD/MP3-player with touchscreen interface as well as satellite navigation and Bluetooth cellphone preparation. The system works very well, is easy to use and understand, but at R31 410 these options account for almost 10 percent of the car’s purchase price. Rear legroom is limited, but will accommodate adult passengers for a day of site seeing or posing up and down your nearest sunset strip. The boot swallows a modest 250-litres, but this capacity remains the same whether the roof is up or down, as it doesn’t intrude into the boot area when folded away. The rear seats can also be folded down in a 50:50 ratio split, but while you might easily fit your golf clubs, you won’t squeeze in your surf board, unless you drop the top.
A 1.4-litre engine may sound a little gutless for a car that weighs 1 484 kg, but combined with a supercharger and turbocharger, the Highline TSI is no slouch and is the preferred choice in the current range. Not only has it got 118 kW and 240 Nm of torque, but it also works far better with the 7-speed DSG transmission than that of the 90 kW Comfortline alternative. Peak torque is available between 1 500 and 4 500 r/min, which means it cruises comfortably, requiring little intervention from the transmission to maintain its speed. The extra power also comes in handy when overtaking, whereas the Comfortline model requires some patience and noticeably more effort – which really sums up what the Highline DSG model is, ‘effortless’. With the wind deflector (a standard accessory) in place, cruising is comfortable and free of excess buffeting at all reasonable speeds.
Another key contributor to the TSI Highline’s ‘effortless’ character is that of the chassis and suspension. The cabriolet relies on the same components as the hatchback to deliver up a ride that’s comfortable and composed, but it’s the strengthened chassis that holds it all together. A reinforced windscreen frame, underbody, sidepanels, crossmembers and doors, all improve torsional rigidity to avoid any shakes, rattles or rolls when on the move. In addition, the engine enclosure is made of aluminium for increased rigidity, while vibration has been reduced through the use of special engine mounts. The roof also features a ribbed design to prevent it filling with air whilst on the move, as well as an insulating filler layer that reduces noise levels to those on par with a conventional hatchback. As such, piloting the Golf Cabriolet is a wholly enjoyable experience, with a feeling of refinement coming from the engine, slick DSG transmission, chassis and steering. The engine is powerful enough to attain exciting speeds, while the chassis remains composed enough to enjoy it – remember, this is the same chassis that manages 155 kW in the more expensive Audi A3 2.0T.
Of course, all this strengthening also bodes well for the car’s safety, which Volkswagen have ensured with the inclusion of: driver and passenger front airbags; driver knee airbag; combined curtain and side airbags in front; ISOFIX child seat preparation at the rear; side impact beams; automatic roll-over protection that jettisons roll-bars normally hidden behind the rear seats; as well as the usual electronic aids of ABS, EBD, ESP and hill hold assist. Overall the Golf Cabriolet achieved a 5-star Euro NCAP rating when it was first crash tested in November 2011.
It’s all good then for the range-topping Golf Cabrio, other than the list of pricey available options. It must be mentioned though, that the bi-xenon headlights, apart from looking good, add a genuine element of safety to the car by virtue of their effectiveness after dark. Ladies, empty-nesters and penny-wise cabriolet buyers take note, the Golf Cabriolet TSI Highline is likely the most sensible cabriolet on the market right now, in some cases even more so than larger and more expensive competitors. For those questioning the car’s street-cred, don’t be discouraged, the 155 kW Golf Cabriolet GTI is on the horizon and should answer your prayers with bigger wheels, a lower ride height, more aggressive looks and performance.
What we like…
- Slick-shifting DSG.
- Fast folding roof.
- Quality interior.
- The way it all comes together.
What we would like…
- Cooled seat option for hot summer days.
- BlueMotion technology to take average fuel economy of 6.3 L/100km from good to great.
|Base Price||R338 500|
|Warranty||3 year / 120 000 km|
|Engine Capacity||1 390 cm³|
|No. Of Cylinders||4-cylinders, In-line|
|Power||118 kW @ 5 800 r/min|
|Torque||240 N.m @ 1 500 – 4 500 r/min|
|Drive type||Front-wheel drive|
|Acceleration||0-100 km/h in 8.4 seconds (claimed)|
|Top Speed||216 km/h (claimed)|
|Fuel Consumption||6.3 l/100km (claimed combined)|
|CO2 Emissions||148 g/km|